Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Two bees or not two bees

A few summers ago, my good friends and neighbors in Ireland had an infestation of bees in their bedroom wall. I sent them the following poem by Pauline Stainer, called "The Honeycomb:
They had made love early in the high bed,
Not knowing the honeycomb stretched
Between lath and plaster of the outer wall.

For a century
The bees had wintered there,
Prisoning sugar in the virgin wax.

At times of transition,
Spring and autumn,
Their vibration swelled the room.

Laying his hand against the plaster
In the May sunrise,
He felt the faint frequency of their arousal,

Nor winters later, burning the beeswax candle,
Could he forget his tremulous first loving
Into the humming dawn.
My friend Philip responded with a lovely poem of his own, "The Singular Bee":
The singular bee
Knew nothing of caresses
Had no use for woolen warmth

The singular bee
Knew pleasure in flowers
In closeness meaning
It was much more than one

The hive gave the bee warmth
Purpose, and meaning not understood
But found.

Inside the space touched
Not penetrated by the hive
Touch was exclusive
Breath shared with one
As love

Or so perhaps the two
To the gathered swarm
I share these poems here now because I just came across them in a forgotten folder on my laptop. Living in a world where bees nest in bedroom walls, and -- as here on the island -- ants invade the sugar bowl, brown racer snakes slither across the garden path, termites devour the door jambs, and scorpions delight in hiding in shoes on the closet floor, well, yes, to live gracefully in such a world requires finding grace were we least expect it, as, yes, the two poems above so delightfully illustrate.